Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Aftermath of Prop 8

In the aftermath of the passage of California's Proposition 8, there's been a lot of turmoil. I can't help but think that had the No on Prop 8 crowd been this organized prior to the election, they might have won. What disturbs me at this point, whether you support same-sex marriage or not, are the actions of extremists of the No on 8 side. Let's compare demeanor and attitude. Here's the famed clip of Gavin Newsom gloating following the overturning of Proposition 22, the initial Proposition passed by over 60% of California voters declaring marriage to be between a man and a woman. Audio quality is poor, but turn it up and you can hear both his words and his tone.

That incredible, smug attitude saved the Yes on Prop 8 campaign millions of dollars of advertising and work. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. One gloating gasbag is worth millions.

Contrast that attitude with the official press release put out the day after the election by the most vilified of the faiths involved in the multi-faith coalition to protect traditional marriage. Original release here.

We hope that now and in the future all parties involved in this issue will be well informed and act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different position. No one on any side of the question should be vilified, intimidated, harassed or subject to erroneous information.

Allegations of bigotry or persecution made against the Church were and are simply wrong. The Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage neither constitutes nor condones any kind of hostility toward gays and lesbians. Even more, the Church does not object to rights for same-sex couples regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the traditional family or the constitutional rights of churches.
There's no ambiguity in these statements. Short of actually redefining marriage, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no objection to any and all rights for same-sex couples, and believes they should be treated equally under the law. Same-sex couples are not to be harassed, vilified, intimidated, and their views are to be treated with respect and civility. In the coverage of the follow up to the passage of Proposition 8, the Yes on 8 supporters seem to have done just that. No Gavin Newsom style gloating.

Once again, contrast that attitude to this man's account of what he saw and participated in in Los Angeles. He recounts anger, militant violence and bigotry committed against one of the many faiths involved in this coalition. These are hate crimes, including clear acts of vandalism and assaults on holy places of worship, but they don't seem to count so long as they're committed against a group it's politically correct to hate. Notice that demonstrators don't have the courage to face the Catholic church. Notice that they ignore the fact that a majority of Latinos and a vast majority, 70% of African Americans voted for Proposition 8. After all, it's not politically correct ot act in such an inappropriate manner toward minorities. No, the bigoted extremists within the No on 8 campaign like to hit the easy targets, which is a behavior usually called cowardice.

Is the Catholic church quiet about being overlooked in these demonstrations? If you just listen to the news, you'd think they were, but they haven't been.

(This news release was issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento) The following statement was released today by Bishop William Weigand, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and former Bishop of Salt Lake City, in response to attacks on (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for supporting California’s Proposition 8, defending the traditional definition of marriage:

“Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage — the union of one man and one woman — that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia.

“The ProtectMarriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8, was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity. LDS were included — but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Latinos, Asians and Anglos.

“Bigoted attacks on Mormons for the part they played in our coalition are shameful and ignore the reality that Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell that supported Proposition 8.

“As the former bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, I can attest to the fact that followers of the Mormon faith are a good and generous people with a long history of commitment to family and giving to community causes.

“I personally decry the bigotry recently exhibited towards the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — coming from the opponents of Proposition 8, who ironically, have called those of us supporting traditional marriage intolerant.

“I call upon the supporters of same-sex marriage to live by their own words — and to refrain from discrimination against religion and to exercise tolerance for those who differ from them. I call upon them to accept the will of the people of California in the passage of Proposition 8.”

Source here.

The careless disregard of the democratic process displayed by No on Prop 8 demonstrators in attacking individual donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign won't be addressed in detail here, but is a serious threat to the future of free and fair elections where people demonstrate peacefully, donate without fear and speak up about causes they support. Don't believe it? One example here, more on the subject here, and a little research will turn up more examples of harrassment and other anti-democratic actions by No on 8 protestors.

One side of this debate, when they won in the overturning of Proposition 22, was boastful, unpleasant, and gloating in their victory. The other side went to work in defense of traditional marriage, and worked quietly and tirelessly to protect what they believe is an important pillar of our civilization. By the way, they're not the only ones who agree, and conservatives and faith-based communities aren't the only ones who spoke out on this, examples here and here. The Yes on 8 side won, even though they were outspent financially, through solid organization and fervent belief that failure would harm our society. The difference in the level of respect and attitude are glaringly obvious. Most of the Yes on 8 crowd agree with the jist of Elton John's recent comments. That is, same-sex civil unions to be recognized by the U.S. Federal government are fine, but the word Marriage, as a traditional and religious term, should be left alone and not redefined.

Following the passage of Proposition 8 I went online and suggested to communities ways they could alleviate the concerns that caused the passage of this measure, including initiating their own proposition to ease concerns about judicial activism, guaranteeing faith communities could not be sued for their beliefs, sermons or ceremonies and providing that sexuality issues, save for current health education curriculum only, shall not be taught in schools. I didn't address the validity of those concerns, only how they might be overcome, yet I was attacked viciously. I learned: there is no reasoning with the extremists. They're out for blood. They want to sue religion out of existence, and they must be opposed (with respect--a concept they haven't mastered) at all costs.

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